Thursday, April 30, 2015

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks at Brooklyn Museum (Revision)

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks at Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn Museum presents the Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks which includes numerous of his notebooks which are rarely seen before, and paintings that are related to the notebooks. I was very excited to see Basquiat's work in New York because it was hard to find his works when I was in Korea and even when I traveled in Europe. I might had some high expectations for this show since Basquiat was born in Brooklyn and the show held at the Brooklyn Museum. However, the show is quite small, mostly concentrated on the documents but not the paintings. I understand that the show is supposed to present unseen documents but I think it might be better to have more of the painting or other works that the audience could understand his major art works. 

Most of his notes are poetry fragments, wordplays, sketches and personal observations ranging from those about street life and pop culture. Those works gave me a good chance to know what he was interested in every day life and how he worked spontaneously. Some pages contain his signature motif like skulls and crowns which can also be found in his larger paintings and drawings. However, the gallery space is not large enough to show 160 pages from the notebooks. They use only two galleries which feels quite small. Also I felt that the display which lined up the documents in a one row without enough gap between each pages distracts my interest and it was hard to concentrate, appreciate and read the notes. I think they did not managed the space properly because there is one more space, they used it as an art shop which they also have another one which is even bigger than it on the ground floor. 
The concept of the exhibition was good, but the contents that they presented were not strong enough to attract, despite how many lives visited for the name Basquiat.


  1. I was not a fan of this exhibit, so I agree with most of what you are saying. I thought it was a bit disorganized and I think the store should have been somewhere else and the space used to display works instead. Since it felt disorganized, I ended up rushing through the exhibit in random directions. in some areas it was too cluttered.

    your review takes into consideration both the art chosen for display and the exhibition, so that's good. otherwise i would just look out for grammatical errors.

  2. Hi Eun Jin, I think the show's name "The Unknown Notebooks" really arouse my interest. I don't know well about Basquiat's works. Since as you mentioned his works are so rare and mostly related to Brooklyn, it makes me feel regret for not visiting it. I could see some pop art style painting in the picture and I think they stand up as a document but also an art piece. I also feel the same disappointment when you mention his exhibition is filled with documents instead of paintings. I agree with you that painting always provide audience with different impression and feeling rather than just representing the works in words. Even though I didn't go to his show, you did a great job in describing it which I can picture how it is like. If he is going to do another show, I would love to go visit with you.